Jobs Evaporate as Business Activity Sees Record-Setting Contraction

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Mar 24, 2020

Recent filings indicate that coronavirus-related layoffs are accelerating in connection with a record-setting economic contraction.

Bloomberg is reporting that Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification filings, which must be processed prior to mass layoffs, have shown hundreds of layoffs in a wide variety of economic sectors, from manufacturing to aviation to hotels to even schools.

The layoffs have affected companies of all sizes, but particularly small businesses that do not have the thick savings cushions of larger firms, meaning they cannot tolerate long economic slowdowns as easily. A 2016 study by JPMorgan Chase found that the average small business has about 27 days' worth of cash on hand, although particular types have less: Restaurants, for example, were found to have just 16.

Meanwhile, the workers themselves are applying for unemployment in such large numbers that agencies are becoming increasingly stressed, according to the Wall Street Journal. Websites have been crashing, and call centers have been overwhelmed, which has left states wondering whether they even have enough money to cover all the new claims. Economists reported that at least 1.5 million people applied for unemployment last week, breaking the previous record set in 1982 of 695,000, although Goldman Sachs estimates that the figure could be as high as 2.2 million once the federal government reports official numbers.

Amid all these job losses, however, comes news from CNN that certain companies, far from laying off workers, are actually expanding their hiring for full- and part-time positions. These are mostly stores that provide food and other essential goods. CVS is looking to fill 50,000 new slots; Walmart announced plans to hire 150,000 workers; Instacart wants 300,000; Amazon plans to hire 100,000; grocery chain Albertsons will hire 300,000; Dollar General wants to hire 50,000; Pepsi will hire 6,000; Papa Johns said it needs 20,000; Dominos said it's hiring 10,000; Pizza Hut said 30,000; 7-11 is aiming for 20,000; and GE Healthcare said it needs an unspecified number of new employees.

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